Remember the classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” TV special, where the little girl Sally decided to stay with Linus in his pumpkin patch to await the imminent arrival of The Great Pumpkin, rather than participate in the Trick or Treating fun all children enjoy when they celebrated Halloween? “I was robbed!! … I’ll sue!” she exclaimed, upon realizing Linus’ prophetic vision failed to happen. It was a whimsical illustration; everyone understands Sally’s frustration about losing the chance to enjoy an event which happens only once a year, and we all see how Linus is sincere but is comically misguided. But this same personal situation befalling “climate warrior” #GretaThunberg could personally harm her in a far more serious and damaging way.
The PBS NewsHour featured 16 year-old Thunberg in a September 13, 2019 interview, hailing the effectiveness of her speaking while seemingly oblivious to how she doesn’t meet the mandatory minimum requirement for climate science speakers to be currently published in science journals, which enviro-activists regularly aim at people already possessing PhD-level climate science knowledge. However, more troubling for me was her answer to the question about what brought her into the global warming issue in the first place:
I was completely unaware of everything, like everyone else. And I learned about this in school. .. I learned the basics, that the planet was warming because of increased greenhouse gas emissions .. that the global temperature would rise, there would be more extreme weather, and so on. .. if it’s really as serious as they are saying it is, then why isn’t it being discussed more? ..
So I started to read about it more and more. ..
“… why isn’t it being discussed more?” That is an inexplicable false premise assertion on her part. For the PBS NewsHour, it’s hard to find a significant length of time during her short lifespan when the topic was not being discussed or mentioned in a prominent way. The same could be found for European media outlets as well.
Reread the bit before that, though: “… I learned about this in school. .. the basics …” What exactly was the “basics” presented to her and her classmates, and who were the people behind these “basics”? Bigger question than that, did any of these “basics” include science-based presentations from expert science-educated speakers detailing the assessments of scientists who questioned the conclusions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? At a different interview last week, Greta said she sends her speeches to climate scientists for fact-checking — who are those scientists, and has she ever considered sending her speeches to scientists who are skeptical about the idea of catastrophic man-caused global warming? If not, why not?
Essentially, “the basics – increased greenhouse gas emissions cause global temperatures to rise, more extreme weather, and so on” ….. or rather only half of the basics ….. is what the PBS NewsHour has presented to its viewers for the last 20+ years, since their discussions and mentions of the issue have been devoid of serious, objective lengths of time devoted to assessments from skeptical expert speakers/scientists. It’s as though skeptic’s climate assessments, the methodology assessments, and the organizational assessments (plural) don’t exist for NewsHour viewers who don’t have time to go looking for them, or for teenagers like Greta who have other ordinary teenage interests to pursue. But those do exist.
Arising out of the bigger question of why Greta didn’t hear from the skeptic side of the issue when she was in school, it could be asked whether she has any awareness of that side at all. And if she does now, what is her official position about skeptic climate scientists? That they are no more than ‘shills of the oil industry?’ If so, what evidence does she rely on for such an accusation?
To fully comprehend what the impending peril is for Greta, imagine a different topic in which she could be glorified as a heroine spokesperson: she could have learned the basics in school that vaccines caused whatever form of autism she has, leading her to question why the ‘settled science’ of this situation isn’t being discussed more, and thus she’s the perfect person to lead a children’s revolt since adults are delaying action that could solve this problem. Her parents might try to emphasize this by saying she is uniquely able to see the chemical in vaccine fluids that actually causes autism.
One can only imagine the “#AntiVaxxer,” “anti-science,” “religious zealot” label ridicule she and her parents and handlers would have to endure, along with relentless jabs on whether she could also see dead people.
But her mother tells us Greta can see carbon dioxide, a colorless, naturally occurring trace gas already in the atmosphere, where the human-induced component of it can be termed a ‘trace gas of a trace gas.’
Will reporters press to find out if she will submit to tests to prove she can see CO2? If she denies having this superhuman ability, will they ask why she contradicts her mother’s claim? It would be cruel to ask such questions, wouldn’t it? Don’t hold your breath for this; she’s probably better protected from rough questions than Al Gore is.
Maybe that was the plan all along.
She’d probably crumble apart like any normal child would if a scientist challenged her on science points and overwhelmed her with levels of details she couldn’t possibly respond to, or if reporters challenged her to provide proof of how skeptic scientists are paid to operate under Big Oil orchestration.
That’s where the potential absolute cruelty comes in, not from heartless reporters or anyone on the skeptic side who makes fun of her appearance, but from the way her parents and her handlers are putting her on international display — out to twist in the wind, metaphorically speaking — where she risks being ridiculed for her ignorance and exposed as being little more than a pawn of very thoughtless, careless people. At the end of it all, the mental trauma of finding out who isn’t being truthful could be devastating to her, leading to total estrangement from her parents and any others she trusted.
At the moment, she faces no pressure to back up any science assertions she makes, or any political accusations she might make against critics. There’s already efforts underway to insulate her from that via ‘attack the attacker’ tactics, but they are downright laughable and of course are ultimately unsustainable. She must be protected at all costs because she can’t answer serious due diligence-style questions.
It’s a microcosm for the larger global warming issue. Al Gore and the scientists on his side fear losing a science-based debate, so they call their critics ‘fossil fuel industry-paid/orchestrated shills.’ It’s been an amazingly effective propaganda tactic: “the science is settled” / “skeptics are industry-corrupted” / “reporters may therefore ignore skeptic material because of points 1 & 2.” Don’t even think of asking an innocent teenage girl rough questions about her sources of science information.
Maybe it’s too late for Greta to recapture what she’s lost in her earlier teenage years, and hopefully she can find a graceful way to exit the issue before her fame implodes in an embarrassing way. The silver lining to her situation may be that later when she is an adult and able to reflect more deeply on the whole situation, she can sue her parents for robbing her of an ordinary teenager’s life she was entitled to enjoy.
She might grow up to be a leader in an area nobody intended for her, a case study of what one-sided indoctrination can do to a child, and how such unfairness can be overcome.
In the interim time, we should take the focus off her personally, and focus as harshly as we can on what specifically was taught to her, who did the teaching, who in the scientific community is currently doing the fact-checking of her speeches, and whether those ‘fact-checkers’ are actually writing her speeches and telling her what to say.